Bullied and sexually harassed – the epidemic in NSW parliament

Bullying and sexual harassment, even assault is rife in NSW parliament

Bullied and sexually harassed – the epidemic in NSW parliament

The New South Wales parliament has been exposed as a toxic place to work after more than a third of employees told an independent enquiry that they had experienced bullying, harassment or sexual misconduct during the past five years. The investigation, by former sex discrimination commissioner Elizabeth Broderick, found that a certain offices were “well-known hotspots” for harmful behaviour and than half were committed by elected members of parliament.

The report found that people were largely unaware of the policies in place designed to protect them. There was also an imbalance of power between parliamentarians and staff and a lack of diversity in gender and ethnicity in decision-making roles.

A highly pressurised work environment with long hours, indefinite work arrangements, high alcohol consumption and fear of retribution for reporting bullying or sexual harassment contributed to the unsafe environment.

Broderick has recommended a host of reforms. Among them is a review of the Members of Parliament Staff Act under which staff are employed and mandatory training for all members of the New South Wales parliament and their staff along with reviews of the way staff can lodge complaints and raise issues.

Close to 450 people working in parliament took part in the survey which included 100 confidential one-to-one interviews, representing a quarter of those eligible to take part.

These revelations come hot on the heels of news last week that the premier Dominic Perrottet had sacked Eleni Petinos, minster for small businesses and fair trading, after allegations of an unsafe workplace were reported.

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